BOSTON -- Want one statistic that practically screams the Bruins will once again be hoisting the Stanley Cup this spring?
They've outscored their opponents 60-23 inthe third period this year.
The Bruins made their reputation last year by wearing down other teams through overwhelming depth and grinding physicality, and then dominating their weary opponents once the third period rolled around. The finish up strong mentality worked wonders for them on their way to a Stanley Cup victory in Vancouver last June, and disheartened a bevy ofverycountry strongteams along their journey.
But they're taking it to a new level this year, and its the kind of closingdomination that can make a team feel bulletproof. It could lead some hockey clubs to slack in the first 40 minutes as the Bruins did in victory over the Winnipeg Jets, but that's the exception rather than the rule this year.
We have always been a pretty good team in the third when we are leading, said Tuukka Rask, who won his sixth game in a row with 29 saves against Winnipeg in a 5-3 win Tuesday night . . . a game in which the B's entered the third period trailing, 3-2, but outscored Winnipeg 3-0 in the final 20 minutes. We have been able to get these comebacks and its huge for the teams confidence."
Leading the league in goals against is something the Bruins have done multiple times under Claude Julien, but being first in goals scored is an impressive new wrinkle. The structure and discipline has always been there, but the Bs are at a whole different stratosphere offensively these days. The two-way strength shows a mighty hockeyteam full of skill and smarts.
Tuesday night was the third time this season the Bruins have come from behind in the third period or overtime, and the fourth time theyve taken points out of one of those seeminglyuntenable situations.
Its a mental mindset. Today, we told ourselves we sucked in the first two periods and we have to get out there to win, said Dennis Seidenberg, painting quite a picture of the dressing room discussions between the second and third period. We just cant sleep through the whole game, but it shows that were mentally strong enough to turn it up in the third period when it counts and to get the win.More than just mental resolve, the Bruins have become stone cold killers in the final 20 minutes when they sense weakness in the enemy team on the other side of the ice. One sloppy turnover or one careless rebound turns into the backbreaking goal that cinches the game. Couple that with Boston's comeback ability, and there is some kind of confidence being brandished in those pivotal final minutes.
Its kind of developing a killer instinct, said coach Claude Julien of the thought process in the third period. Our guys really want to finish strong, and they dont want to give the other team an opportunity to get themselves back into it when we do have the lead. I just think they want to finish strong.
For the most part, I think our teams been pretty committed to playing 60-minute games, and tonight was obviously one of those, I would say, rare games where two of the periods were not up to our standards, but overall, I think our guys have done a pretty good job trying to put in a full-game effort.
The full-game effort has been commendable and the Bruins are outscoring their opponents by a healthy margin in each of the three periods in an NHL hockey game, but theres something about Bostons third periods that bodes well for their future.Some might even call their third period domination a Stanley Cup stat in the making.